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Tree Physiol. 2006 Jul;26(7):865-73.

Changes in photosynthesis and leaf characteristics with tree height in five dipterocarp species in a tropical rain forest.

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  • 1The United Graduate School of Agricultural Sciences, Ehime University, Matsuyama, 790-8566, Japan.


Variations in leaf photosynthetic, morphological and biochemical properties with increasing plant height from seedlings to emergent trees were investigated in five dipterocarp species in a Malaysian tropical rain forest. Canopy openness increased significantly with tree height. Photosynthetic properties, such as photosynthetic capacity at light saturation, light compensation point, maximum rate of carboxylation and maximum rate of photosynthetic electron transport, all increased significantly with tree height. Leaf morphological and biochemical traits, such as leaf mass per area, palisade layer thickness, nitrogen concentration per unit area, chlorophyll concentration per unit dry mass and chlorophyll to nitrogen ratio, also changed significantly with tree height. Leaf properties had simple and significant relationships with tree height, with few intra- and interspecies differences. Our results therefore suggest that the photosynthetic capacity of dipterocarp trees depends on tree height, and that the trees adapt to the light environment by adjusting their leaf morphological and biochemical properties. These results should aid in developing models that can accurately estimate carbon dioxide flux and biomass production in tropical rain forests.

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